PARIS: A kangaroo painting created over 17,000 years ago by Aboriginal artists has been identified — with a little help from some ancient wasps — as Australia’s oldest intact rock art.

The two-metre-long (six-feet) artwork on the sloped ceiling of a rock shelter in Western Australia’s Kimberley region was painted in an early naturalistic style, which often features life-sized renderings of animals, according to research published on Monday.

Scientists worked with the local Aboriginal community, who can trace their heritage in the region back tens of thousands of years, to establish the age of original rock artworks, many of them worked and reworked over millennia.

“The main challenge, globally, in dating ancient paintings is that they very rarely employed a pigment that can be dated with any of the current, quantitative dating techniques,” lead author Damien Finch, a geochronologist at the University of Melbourne, said.

To get around this the researchers identified a way to work out the age of the painting using ancient mud wasp nests.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2021

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